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In Twelve Thirty, Talking and Fucking and Talking Some More

In Twelve Thirty, getting fucked by a bright-eyed college kid proves a bonding experience for one Iowa family. In the aftermath of three wildly different sexual encounters with twentysomething Jeff (Jonathan Groff), spunky Mel (Portia Reiners), her morose sister, Maura (Mamie Gummer), and the pair’s mom, Vivien (Karen Young), re-establish a measure of interfamilial intimacy—both with each other and with the latter’s gay ex-husband. Sexuality runs from the thrillingly casual to the squeamishly disagreeable in Jeff Lipsky’s film, but mostly screwing—like trust, love, and happiness—becomes the stuff of ceaseless conversation. Essentially a series of verbal pas de deux, the film pairs off its six characters (Maura’s Satanist friend completes the sextet) in various arrangements for chats by turns aggressive and stutteringly awkward. These exchanges have an echo-chamber feel to them, as if they’re cut off from both the outside world and the way actual people talk, but realism is clearly not what Lipsky is after. Instead, he crafts an odd self-contained universe in which the characters’ compulsive need to explain themselves or simply hold their interlocutor’s attention stands in for the meaning of the words they actually say, resulting in a film more satisfying in occasional isolated moments than as a coherent dramatic entity.

 
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